Innovations & products

Innovations and products

Innovations

>50%

of research projects with benefits for environmental protection

>500

patents in the chemical and environmental sectors, clean energy and hydrogen technologies

>90

research partnerships in more than 20 countries

EUR 112 m

invested in research and development

3,764

patents for Linde technologies

Innovations make a significant contribution to the success of our business and ensure we have a competitive advantage in the market. We therefore invest in research and development and are always trying to devise new and improved products, processes and services. In 2017, we invested a total of EUR 112 m in research and development (2016: EUR 121 m). At 31 December 2017, we employed 350 staff in this field (2016: 345), 241 of whom were working in the Gases Division and 109 in the Engineering Division. To protect our innovations from the competition, we filed 232 new patents across the Group during the reporting year. As at 31 December 2017, various Linde technologies were protected by a total of 3,764 patents. Many of them feature sustainability aspects, with over 500 patents relating to the chemical and environmental sectors, clean energy and hydrogen technologies. In addition, more than half of our 140 or so research and development projects in 2017 also aimed to achieve an environmental benefit.

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Research and development1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2017

 

2016

 

2015

 

2014

 

2013

1

In line with the information in the Financial Report 2017, the figures provided for the years 2015, 2016 and 2017 exclude the business of the logistics service provider Gist, as it has been reported as a discontinued operation.

Lagebericht 2014

Included in the audited Non-Financial Report

Expenditure for research and development

€ million

 

Lagebericht 2014 112

 

Lagebericht 2014 121

 

131

 

106

 

92

Employees in the research and development field

 

 

350

 

345

 

348

 

390

 

367

New patents filed

 

 

232

 

360

 

287

 

260

 

263

Cooperation for innovation

We are continuously tapping into new ways of using our gases and improving our existing processes, plant technologies and applications. Development is almost always set in the context of commissions and involves close liaison with our customers, taking their requirements into account. Moreover, when we embark on innovation activities, we bring leading external institutions and companies on board and enter into collaborative projects. In this area, we currently have access to a network of over 90 partners in more than 20 countries. When cooperating with partners, we focus our research and development activities on improving the interplay between energy efficiency, cost-effectiveness and environmental compatibility. For this reason, we are, for example, a member of a partnership comprising 17 companies and industrial and scientific institutions, which came together in 2016 under the umbrella of the Carbon2Chem climate protection research project. The project, which is set to run for ten years, is to investigate ways of using smelting gases from steelworks to extract chemical raw materials. The coke oven gas produced by steelworks contains more than 60 percent hydrogen by volume and has until now been a virtually untapped resource. We are also focusing on the integration of renewable energy. In this context, we are, for instance, involved in SynErgie, a Kopernikus project subsidised by the German federal government. The aim of the project is to increase power grid stability in Germany through flexible use by major industrial consumers and to mitigate fluctuations which may arise as a result of the use of renewable energy. We are working together with the Technical University of Munich and RWTH Aachen to refine the technology for cryogenic air separation. In this way, we are making modifications to our core technology to meet the technical and operational requirements of the "Energiewende", Germany’s energy transition.

Key topics in the innovation strategy
Advanced materials

Research into impact of industrial gases on properties of materials and on production processes

Efficiency

Sustainable customer value through boosting efficiency of established processes

Environment and resources

Optimal balance between energy consumption, cost-effectiveness and environmental compatibility

Quality of life

Ongoing development of products and services in the Healthcare business

Digitalisation

Opening up new opportunities through networking and evaluation of data sources

In the innovation strategy we introduced in 2016, we focus on five key topics: advanced materials, efficiency, environment & resources, quality of life, and the overarching topic of digitalisation. For several years now, we have, for example, been supporting the ongoing development of hydrogen mobility, which means that - among other things - we have been part of the joint venture H2 Mobility, which is based in Berlin. The aim of the partnership between various industrial groups is the gradual expansion of a nationwide hydrogen filling station network in Germany. By 2023, around 400 of these filling stations should be in operation – at the end of 2017 there were 42.

In the area of healthcare, among other things we continued in 2017 to develop our Hospital IQ data platform, rolling it out, for example, in the United States and in Germany. The data platform, which builds on the benefits offered by the new generation of medical oxygen cylinders (LIV® IQ), has been enhanced to include additional functions. The LIV® IQ cylinders can be centrally monitored by a hospital employee using a PC or another device with access to the internet. In the area of digitalisation, we invested a lot of time in 2017, for example, looking at the integration and evaluation of volumes of data, such as that provided to us by the 500,000 or so sensors in our air separation plants. The aim of our research in this area is to develop new services or to improve maintenance and servicing processes.

Products with benefits for the environment and the society
Food & beverages


70%is our market sharein technologies and applications used in salmon aquaculture farming in Norway

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Chemistry & energy

Around14,500tonnes of NOX emissionsper annum can be avoided by our customers using our LoTOx™ technology in combustion processes

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Metallurgy & glass


18 milliontonnes of CO2can be avoided by our customers in one year just by using one of Linde’s oxygen applications

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Manufacturing industry


790 millioncubic metres of waterper annum is brought up to drinking water quality by customers in just six countries using our SOLVOCARB® process

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Electronics

The equivalent of275,000tonnes of CO2per annum can be avoided by customers in the semiconductor industry by replacing environmentally harmful nitrogen trifluoride with fluorine

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Healthcare

About1.9 millionpatientswith respiratory diseases worldwide are treated at home with our oxygen therapy and additional Homecare therapies

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Our products support our customers in a variety of ways, so that they can develop more sustainable processes: for example, through greater energy efficiency or reduced emissions. We are continuing to expand our product range in the area of energy and environmental technologies. This range comprises processes and technologies required along the entire length of the value chain of renewable and fossil fuels: from production via conversion, transport and storage to their most efficient use.

Our gases and technologies contribute towards large-scale reductions in emissions. A particularly high proportion of this reduction in emissions stems from the use of oxygen in a special combustion process in oxyfuel plants and the use of hydrogen in the desulphurisation of fuel in the oil industry. The use of oxyfuel technology alone enables our customers to avoid more than 18 million tonnes of CO2 per annum.

One of the main focuses of Linde’s research is CO2 recycling and storage. For example, since 2015 we have been testing new processes for the production of synthesis gas using CO2 at our own pilot facility on the Pullach site in Germany. In the Netherlands, we are supplying plants in more than 620 greenhouses with 450,000 tonnes of CO2 a year generated from an oil refinery and a bioethanol plant. We endeavour to exploit the full potential of our innovative technologies either to avoid or significantly reduce CO2 emissions or to recycle them in industrial processes. More information about selected projects which provide groundbreaking solutions can be found here.

With the aim of continuing to reduce environmental pollution, our products are also deployed in the mobility sector. The use of liquefied natural gas (LNG) or hydrogen significantly reduces emissions from cars, buses, trucks and ships. We are not only investing in the development of efficient hydrogen refuelling technology, but are also cooperating with partners to set up a supply infrastructure. In 2017, we were awarded the contract to supply hydrogen for a total of 14 fuel-cell trains in Germany. The trains are expected to carry passengers from December 2021. They will replace existing diesel railcars and reduce emissions of pollutants in everyday operations to zero.

Healthcare is also an important growth market for Linde. In 2017, our Healthcare business generated revenue of around EUR 3.4 bn. Our therapies for the treatment of respiratory disease and the services we are able to provide in the care continuum from hospital to home contribute towards improving the lives of around 1.9 million homecare patients and relieving the burden on healthcare systems.

GRI Indicators

UNGC Indicators

Sustainable Development Goals